He was demoted a few months ago to this desk job, which mostly consists of reasoning with tripped-out junkies or people falling off their bikes. So when he gets a call from a whispering woman who’s been abducted, he nearly hangs up. It’s unclear how realistic Joe’s experience is with his callers, but nevertheless this is his experience as we understand it.
The woman on the call, Emily (voiced by Riley Keough), pretends to be talking to her young daughter on the phone, but Joe catches on quickly, sensing she’s in danger, and starts asking yes or no questions. He also discovers that Emily’s two kids, a 6-year-old daughter and an infant son, are home by themselves. With the little information he has, he goes back and forth between the Highway Patrol and local cops to piece together the story, all the while desperately seeking catharsis from this situation as it indirectly relates to his own.
Typically, when a filmmaker remakes a beloved foreign-language film for US audiences, much of the essence of the original gets lost in the Hollywood gloss. But Fuqua makes sure to hide the seams with smooth editing that rests comfortably in the space where Joe resides, yielding a brisk pace with valuable suspense. The director keeps us up close to our protagonist with a shallow depth of field, blurring the characters close by—that is, unless they come into Joe’s limited scope and grab his attention.