The slick, chaotically empty gunplay party “Hitman: Agent 47" hopes to be a loud August reminder to comic book-addled moviegoers that video games want to be franchises too. Unfortunately, this arsenal of nonsense — technically a do-over of the IO Interactive console staple last filmed as “Hitman” in 2007 — is all too content to pad its digitally slapped-together action scenes with the kind of narrative coherence and dialogue you wouldn’t call bulletproof.
Frenzied opening narration (never a good sign) details the background: a secret, government “Agent” program that built emotionless, perfect assassins but had to be disbanded, yadda yadda yadda.
All we can really gather is that the killing machine played by Rupert Friend — the 47th version in a long line of black-suited, red-tie-sporting clones who don’t experience fear — and Zachary Quinto’s corporate agent are looking for the same woman in hiding. She’s a skittish beauty (damsel-y Hannah Ware) with ties to the missing scientist (Ciaran Hinds) who devised the original Agent program.
Hollywood surely sympathizes with any attempt to relaunch a brand, but in this case Agent 47 is out to prevent his kind from being rebooted and upgraded by any organization. Cue the mayhem. And the Audi product placement.
Writers Skip Woods and Michael Finch have a few tricks up their sleeves as betrayals emerge and allegiances shift. But it’s not enough to make us care or to keep the third act from being a head-scratching mess. Debut feature director Aleksander Bach distracts us with visually splendid locations like Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay and some perfunctorily kinetic shootouts and chases, but ultimately “Hitman: Agent 47,” like the profession it worships, feels purely contractual.
“Hitman: Agent 47.”
MPAA rating: R for sequences of strong violence, some language.
Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes. Playing: In general release.