The plot shifts as often as the desert in White Sands, an absorbing, tightly coiled thriller not always easy to follow, with a fine cast, no-fat direction by Roger Donaldson, and nasties belonging to the all-purpose CIA-FBI consortium of evil.
Donaldson ("No Way Out," "Marie") directs from a script by Daniel Pyne ("Pacific Heights," "Doc Hollywood"). He spins wheels at times and goes nowhere fast, but manages to produce a fairly even little adventure. There are good performances from the leads, with Rourke his usual nasty self - he's even sprayed his hair into a goofy-looking '50s 'do. Dafoe is determined and no-nonsense; Jackson is a proper, though somewhat manic, villain; and Mastrantonio provides a softened edge to the rough stuff. [20 Apr 1992]
What am I looking for in a thriller? I think maybe a movie where people get into a situation, instead of one where an artificial and manipulative situation is imposed on people. "Fatal Attraction" convinced me it was about people who were in a believable situation. I cared about them. White Sands is all arbitrary melodrama, and so the considerable skills that went into it are essentially wasted. [24 Apr 1992, p.38]
Red blood, white sands and a blue Corvette are the real stars of "White Sands," the slick new Roger Donaldson thriller that's more about its plot convolutions than its characters, and more about its visuals than either. [24 Apr 1992, p.85]
It’s possible to enjoy White Sands from moment to moment because the actors are avid and the New Mexico locations are delicately beautiful. Still, there’s something disconcerting about this anything-for-effect style of filmmaking. It doesn’t add up to anything satisfying.