Original film poster
|Directed by||Roger Donaldson|
|Produced by||James G. Robinson
|Written by||Daniel Pyne|
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Samuel L. Jackson
|Music by||Patrick O'Hearn|
|Cinematography||Peter Menzies Jr.|
|Editing by||Nicholas Beauman|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release date(s)||April 24, 1992|
|Running time||101 min.|
White Sands is a 1992 motion picture directed by Roger Donaldson and written by Daniel Pyne for Warner Bros.. The movie is about a small U.S. southwestern town sheriff who finds a body in the desert with a suitcase and $500,000. He impersonates the man and stumbles into an FBI investigation. It stars Willem Dafoe, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Mickey Rourke.
New Mexico Deputy Sheriff Ray Dolezal (Dafoe) is called out to the desert to look at a body in the White Sands desert alongside a suitcase with $500,000 that was discovered by two tourists. The town mortician (Bert Gibson) is content to have the death remain a mystery, but Dolezal seizes upon the mystery to escape the boredom of being a family man and a sheriff in a small town where not much seems to happen.
They track the man, Spenser, and his last known residence to a local motel. During the autopsy they find a phone number written on paper inside the stomach, and Dolezal calls the number, posing as Spenser, in order to set up a meeting at a local motel in the hopes of solving the mystery. The ruse seems to work, as at the motel, two females attack him at gunpoint, grab the money and instruct him to meet Gorman Lennox (Rourke) at a restaurant. Later on that night Dolezal is also kidnapped by an FBI agent named Greg Meeker (Jackson) who informs him that the Spenser was an FBI agent working undercover and since Dolezal handed the money over to the bad guys, he may as well continue to pose as Bob Spenser in an effort to regain the money or help the FBI make a bust.
At the restaurant he meets up with Lennox and the beautiful and wealthy Lane Bodine (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) to learn that the money is being used to buy some illegal arms in an effort to fund some left-wing freedom fighters that are apparently being slaughtered by some right-wing militia somewhere in South America. However, the arms dealers want $250,000 more for the weapons, and Meeker is not about to give Dolezal more money, and thus Dolezal romances his way into Lane's life so that she will attract some of her wealthy humanitarian donors to donate the needed money.
The plot thickens as two FBI from internal affairs start looking for Dolezal, thinking that he killed Bob and took the money, and the fact that Lane knows that Dolezal is not really Bob, but agrees to keep the secret and raise the money because she finds Dolezal attractive, and sees him as a nice, honest alternative to a past relationship she had with the violent Lennox. However, Dolezal suspects that something else is going on and when he attends a rodeo with Lane, he meets Noreen (Maura Tierney), who had an affair with the real Bob, and explains that Bob was working with someone else in the FBI that likely killed him. However, Noreen runs away in fear, (to be killed by the obviously corrupt Meeker) and Dolezal is grabbed by the internal affairs agents, and they are soon run off the road by Lennox.
Lennox kidnaps the two FBI internal affairs agents, and takes Dolezal out into the desert to drop another bombshell; he knows who Dolezal really is, because he is a CIA agent that wants to ensure that the arms deal goes through in order to ensure the survival of the military-industrial complex through warfare. Lennox kills the two agents and informs Dolezal that he has also kidnapped Lane and that Dolezal needs to find where she hide the $250,000 and then meet Lennox on a deserted military base in the White Sands desert.
Dolezal, finds the money in Lane's horse's stall, beats up an FBI agent that Meeker had tailing him, and kidnaps Meeker and takes him out to the White Sands location, handcuffs him to a pipe inside an abandoned building and explains that Lennox is CIA, that the FBI internal affairs will be arriving soon and that Meeker can either face punishment for killing Bob and stealing the money or try and flee. Dolezal leaves a gun behind, so that with some effort Meeker is able to grab it and hide behind a bathroom stall in the building.
Soon afterwards Lennox arrives explains that Lane is alive down the road a few miles and that he plans on calling for the assistance of Dolezal again. Dolezal has placed the briefcase in the abandoned building, so that when Lennox walks into grab the money, an angry and scarred Meeker shoots and kills him. Dolezal drives away and picks up Lane, but he plans to return to his family.
A small army of FBI arrive in cars and helicopters, and Meeker has escaped from the handcuffs and runs out into the White Sand desert with the briefcase. Dolezal has left enough money behind so that the FBI will no longer be after him, but the FBI notice tracks going out into the White Sands. Just as the FBI catch up with him, Meeker drops the briefcase, causing it to open up and reveal that it does not have the money in it, just sand.
The film ends with Dolezal driving across the southwestern desert back to his normal life.
The film opened to mixed reviews. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine wrote, that the storyline was both predictable and when Lennox is revealed to be a CIA agent utterly confusing. Most reviewers did feel that the film's highlights include work from cinematographer Peter Menzies and composer Patrick O'Hearn, but that neither men could make up for the problems with the script. As Desson Howe of the Washington Post wrote, it is never really explained why Dafoe's character has this obsession to find out the truth about Bob's death, or the various other unexplained oddities that occur in the film such as the fact that Mastrantonio falls in love with Dafoe's character for no apparent reason.
The film is available on DVD with a few special options. It includes English and French language and subtitle options, a filmography of the some of the cast, and trailers for this and a few other films by Morgan Creek.