White Sands (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roger Donaldson|
|Produced by||William Sackheim
|Written by||Daniel Pyne|
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
|Music by||Patrick O'Hearn|
|Cinematography||Peter Menzies Jr.|
|Editing by||Nicholas Beauman|
|Studio||Morgan Creek Productions|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release dates||April 24, 1992|
|Running time||101 min.|
White Sands is a 1992 crime film directed by Roger Donaldson and written by Daniel Pyne for Warner Bros. The film is about a U.S. southwestern small-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 is called to look at a body in the White Sands desert alongside a suitcase with $500,000 discovered by two tourists. A mortician is content to let the death remain a mystery, but Dolezal sees a chance to escape the boredom of being a family man and a law officer in a small town where not much seems to happen.
He tracks the victim, Bob Spenser, and his last known residence to a local motel. During the autopsy they find a phone number written on paper in the stomach. Dolezal calls the number, posing as Spenser, to set up a meeting. At the motel, two women force him at gunpoint to give up the money and instruct him to meet Gorman Lennox at a restaurant.
Dolezal is intercepted by an FBI agent named Greg Meeker, who informs him that Spenser was an undercover agent. Now that Dolezal has lost the buy money to the bad guys, Meeker concludes he may as well continue pose as Spenser in an effort to either recover the money or help the FBI make a bust.
He meets Lennox and wealthy associate Lane Bodine and learns that the money is being used to buy illegal arms in an effort to fund left-wing freedom fighters who are apparently being slaughtered by right-wing militia somewhere in South America. However, the arms dealers demand an additional $250,000 for the weapons. Meeker, unwilling to cough up more money, pushes the responsibility of raising the additional quarter-million on Dolezal. Dolezal ends up romancing his way into Lane's life so that she will attract rich humanitarian donors to fund the deal.
The plot thickens as two FBI men from internal affairs are hunting for Dolezal, believing he killed Spenser and took the money. Lane eventually finds out that Dolezal is not really Spenser, but she agrees to keep the secret and raise the money because she finds Dolezal an attractive, honest alternative to the violent Lennox.
Dolezal suspects that something else is going on and when he attends a rodeo with Lane and meets Noreen, who had an affair with the real Spenser. It turns out Spenser was working with someone else from the FBI who likely killed him when he tried to run off with the money. Noreen runs away in fear at the sight of Lennox (whom Doezal doesn't see) and Dolezal is grabbed by the internal affairs agents. Noreen is later found shot dead in her car.
The FBI agents and Dolezal are run off the road by Lennox. He kidnaps the three and takes them out into the desert to drop another bombshell — he knows who Dolezal really is, because he is really a CIA agent who is doing everything in his power to make the arms deal go 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. Dolezal must find where she hid the $250,000 and then meet Lennox on a deserted military base in the White Sands desert.
Dolezal uncovers the money in a briefcase buried in Lane's horse's stall. After beating up an FBI agent whom Meeker had tailing him, he kidnaps Meeker and takes him out to the White Sands dunes, handcuffing him to a pipe inside an abandoned building. Dolezal explains that Lennox is CIA, that the FBI will be arriving soon, and that Meeker can either face punishment for killing Spenser (and most likely Noreen) and stealing the money or try to flee. Dolezal leaves a gun behind, so that with some effort Meeker is able to grab it and hide behind a bathroom stall.
Lennox arrives and reveals that Lane is alive, down the road a few miles. Dolezal has placed the briefcase in the abandoned building, but when Lennox walks in, Meeker shoots and kills him. Dolezal drives away and picks up Lane. He then drops her off at her estate and, even though she still has hopes - however remote - that he'll stay with her, he explains that he loves his wife and needs to return home to his family. Before leaving, he hands her a plastic garbage bag containing the $250,000 she had obtained through her pseudo-fund raising event.
A small army of FBI arrive in cars and helicopters. Meeker has broken the pipe he was cuffed to, escaped from the abandoned building, and is running through the White Sands desert with the briefcase. Dolezal has left the original $500,000 he was originally suspected of stealing so that the FBI will no longer be after him, but one of the agents notices footprints going out into the White Sands and so they head off in pursuit. Just as the FBI catches up with him, Meeker stumbles and drops the briefcase, causing it to open. It does not have any money in it, just sand.
- Willem Dafoe as Ray Dolezal
- Mickey Rourke as Gorman Lennox
- Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Lane Bodine
- Samuel L. Jackson as Greg Meeker
- M. Emmet Walsh as Bert Gibson
- James Rebhorn as Agent Flynn
- Maura Tierney as Noreen
- Beth Grant as Roz Kincaid
- Mimi Rogers as Molly Dolezal
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 man 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.