Two years ago, French writer-director Fred Cavaye held audiences in a vice-like grip with his tautly paced thriller, Anything For Her (Pour Elle).

Anchored by emotionally raw performances from Vincent Lindon and Diane Kruger, the film expertly charted one ordinary man's battle against a supposedly flawed legal system.

In its original form, the story concentrated just as much on the mental anguish of the characters as the intricate mechanics of an attempted jailbreak, which provided the film with its exhilarating climax.

Oscar-winning film-maker Paul Haggis (Crash) was obviously impressed too and he has re-polished this gem of modern European cinema for English-speaking audiences.

Some of the subtleties of Cavaye's original are lost in translation and while Pour Elle was a breathless 92-minute race against time, Haggis's remake wheezes at an ungainly 133 minutes.

The Next Three Days mimics the opening sequence almost frame for frame but Haggis invariably puts his stamp on the material.

He tarries on the dark streets of Pittsburgh, where the crusading husband sets his elaborate scheme in motion, and introduces an action sequence which sees the front seat passenger of a moving vehicle attempt to make a swift exit into the path of an articulated lorry.

The high-speed chicanery is brilliantly engineered, but completely superfluous.

Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) is a model businesswoman, wife and mother with a doting husband, John (Russell Crowe), and a young son, Luke (Ty Simpkins).

The family's world implodes when police detectives Quinn (Jason Beghe) and Collero (Aisha Hinds) arrest Lara for the murder of her boss.

Evidence is compelling – including fingerprints on the murder weapon.

Lara is sentenced to a lifetime behind bars for a crime she maintains she did not commit.

John naturally pins his hopes on an appeal but when the law fails him, the husband concocts an elaborate plan to spring his wife from jail.

"I promise you, this will not be your life," he tells Lara tearfully as he uses inside knowledge from an ex-con (Liam Neeson) to identify a tiny window of opportunity for escape.

For audiences unfamiliar with Cavaye's film, The Next Three Days is a well-constructed, if slow-burning, thriller about a husband's unerring love for his wife.

Crowe and Banks are solid and there are touching scenes between John and his father (Brian Dennehy), who silently gives his blessing to his son's plan.

However, once you closely compare Haggis's version to the original, deficiencies are clear: The lack of dramatic momentum, weaker characterisation and the implausible transformation of humble English teacher John into a traditional action hero.

Furthermore, a coda involving a storm drain is preposterous, providing a neat and tidy resolution that eradicates the ambiguities of Cavaye's incarnation.

Hollywood doesn't like to trip over any loose ends.