A tense hostage situation erupts when three escaped convicts commandeer a school bus full of deaf children and take them and their courageous teacher (Marlee Matlin) to an abandoned slaughterhouse to negotiate with the cops. No sooner are the crooks and their captives inside the plant than it is surrounded by policemen. An FBI unit led by John Potter (James Garner) arrives. Though a veteran agent, Potter has been laid off since he was accused of botching a bombing situation in Texas. He and the leader of the police force Budd (Kenneth Welsh) are immediately at loggerheads as to how to handle things. The situation is worsened when a publicity hungry assistant D.A. (Charles Martin Smith) shows up with a camera crew. Meanwhile, the clever and determined Melanie devises her own imperfect solution to the problem. Though basically a routine thriller, it does feature a couple of surprising twists at the end.