Thieves don’t get much thicker than Ajay and Shaan, two hapless chancers who try to hold up a petrol station in new London-set comedy Convenience. This low (low) budget indy punches well above its weight thanks to charismatic performances from Ray Panthaki (Life Sentence) and Adeel Akhtar (Four Lions) as the dim-witted duo.
The motivation for their crime: Shaan owes Russian gangsters £8,000 having sat in their strip club drinking pop — because he needed somewhere to read his book. Ajay, who can’t believe his ears an awful lot in this movie, wants to know why Shaan didn’t notice that the girls had their tops off? “I thought it was hot in there,” offers Shaan.
We’re in the territory of Cheech and Chong or Harold and Kumar (minus the marijuana): silly for sure, but the chemistry between the leads carries you along even when plot logic falters. If you can get over the idea that Ajay and Shaan have to pose as garage attendants until the safe’s timelock opens the following day, there’s a lot to enjoy here. Good gags, great timing and a steady stream of cameos, notably Verne Troyer as a pissed-off cowboy and Anthony Head as a suicidal depressive, keep things bubbling even though we’re in one location for most of the film.
According to Panthaki, who’s also on producing duties, the film was shot in one month over nights inside a working petrol station at a cost of just £80,000. With that in mind, it would be churlish to complain about the film’s occasional low-fi feel. Clever effects cover most of the cracks and the strange lemony glow that washes over the scenes in the garage add a hyperreal quality that allows the actors to get away with lines that are sometimes off-the-scale dumb.
This Is England’s Vicky McClure is also on good form as Levi, a real employee who plays the robbers off each other so she can extract their names and numbers. Convenience is good knockabout fun and hopefully won’t be the last outing for Panthaki and Akhtar as these endearingly brainless buddies.
Convenience is at cinemas now and will be available across other platforms from 5 October.