Three escaped convicts hijack a school bus and end up trapped at an abandoned slaughterhouse in a hostage situation they didn't plan. But their problems are just beginning. They discover that the children and their teacher (Marlee Matlin) are deaf-- and that the FBI has been called in to negotiate their freedom, headed up by agent John Potter (James Garner). When the convicts murder the school bus driver in cold blood to prove they mean business, the FBI faces a stalemate. What stands between Potter and the hostages' freedom is more than just the killers. Up against a disgruntled local police force, a corrupt D.A. and a Pittsburgh Police Officer (Lolita Davidovich) with more than the safety of the hostages on her mind, Potter will have to keep alert if he is to save the mission from ending in DEAD SILENCE.