Emergency telephone operator Jordan (Halle Berry) is left traumatised when a young girl frantically making a 911 call is kidnapped and murdered by a sadistic prowler. Six months later she find herself on the line with a teenager (Abigail Breslin) who has been snatched from a shopping mall and spirited away in the boot of a car. With the clock ticking against her, Jordan has to trace the victim before it's too late. Director Brad Anderson (The Machinist) holds the line in a tense thriller with a neatly suspenseful hook.
This may not be the flamboyant return to form that she not doubt hankers after but - for the most part - it's a taut thriller that only eases off the tension in the final reel.
Berry plays Jordan, a tough'n'tender-talking 911 operator at Los Angeles' emergency call centre. 99% of the time, she's dealing with speed-dialling drunks, minor domestic spats and adolescent girls terrified of bats trapped in their bedrooms.
However, she's also trained to deal with real emergencies - shootings, armed robberies, car-jackings - and, one night, a terrified call from a youngster who's alone in the house when an intruder breaks in. Jordan makes the mistake of calling her back, the prowler hears and the girl's body is found days later.
Traumatised by the grim outcome, she's put on training duties...but is forced to return to the phones when a teenager (Breslin) manages to make a 911 from the boot of a speeding car after she's been snatched from a shopping mall.
For the first hour or so, this is a cheesewire-tight drama as Jordan - compassionate and reassuring - talks the girl down and pragmatically advises her on an exit strategy that won't draw the attention of her kidnapper.
However, the tension is racked up when he shows himself to be a psychologically unstable nutjob with a bloodlust...and a big shovel.
It's only when we leave the hothouse pressure of the call centre and Jordan's fraught two-way with the youngster that this weakly resorts to formula and pans out like a lesser Silence of the Lambs.
Still, there's a plenty to savour and Berry has her first role in a while to really ring true.